Mini 6000 Off-Road Expedition Heads for the Thin Air of the Andes

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

The classic Mini may have seen its share of rallies and expeditions over its long history, but with a few exceptions most of them have not ventured too far above sea level.

Now, a new expedition planned by automotive adventurer Ben Coombs will seek to take a classic 1974 Mini 1000 to new heights. Over 6000 meters above sea level, to be exact.

Coombs has charted an overlanding expedition that will see his Mini 1000, fresh from a three-year nut-and-bolt restoration, head for the Andes mountains in South America—not one of the traditional markets for small BMC models.

How did this particular choice of expedition route come about?

“Western Europe’s highest road tops out at an altitude of only around 3250 meters, while in North America, even on gravel tracks 4347 meters is your limit,” Coombs writes. “There are various roads which approach the 6000-meter mark on the Tibetan Plateau, but the only real chance of finding a track which will enable us to take the Mini to this magic height is through a visit to South America.”

Four people will take part in the expedition, with the Mini set to be joined in South America by a 1990 Range Rover. The two cars had left the UK by sea in October, traveling by container, and are currently in Uruguay getting ready for the start of their trek into the Andes.

a road with cars on it and mountains in the back

The Mini and the Range Rover are now in Uruguay, in preparation for their main ascent.

Ben Coombs

Coombs himself has a number of overlanding expeditions under his belt spanning nearly two decades. He’s crossed Asia in a Chevrolet Corvette, and has driven the length of Africa in a classic Porsche. His most recent trek included a 27,000-mile trip in a TVR Chimaera from the northernmost bar on the planet, to the southernmost, in what was dubbed the Pub2Pub Expedition.

“Both Chile and Peru harbor towering volcanoes with old mine tracks to their summits, such as the Aucanquilcha Stratovolcano, where an abandoned mine track reaches 6176 meters above sea level,” Coombs adds.

If the choice of route reminds you of Top Gear’s own high-altitude quest over a decade ago up the Guallatiri volcano, which is 6060 meters high, then the challenges that will be faced both by humans and machines will be somewhat familiar.

But the Top Gear trio had three serious, if intermittently reliable, 4x4s on that trek if you’ll recall.

By contrast, we’re not sure if a classic Mini has even been up this high before.

Coombs took the TVR Chimaera to a high point of about 4700 meters (15,420 feet) above sea level in the Bolivian Altiplano during the Pub2Pub Expedition. But 6000 meters for the 1974 Mini 1000 and for Coombs is a whole other level (no pun intended) when it comes to high-altitude off-road driving.

For one thing, this intended altitude up is already about a hundred meters above the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, for reference, and merely 960 meters below the tallest peak in the Andes, which is Mount Aconcagua in Argentina with a height of 6961 meters, or 22,837 feet. So the planned altitude will be just under a kilometer short of the highest peak in the western hemisphere.

You can follow Coombs’ expedition on Detour, and also on Instagram.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

Share This Article
Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
Leave a comment